Monday, March 23, 2015

"Surprise Leafeon"- A Fun Meta-Counter

I've been messing around for the past few hours with Leafeon. Seismitoad is everywhere, and if people start playing Primal Groudon, Leafeon could be a decent tech for States. At Missouri States, Carington Huffman was playing Seismitoad/Leafeon which he made the Top Eight with. Leafeon helped him in the mirror, and if he had played against me, I would have had trouble dealing with Seismitoad because my counter, Primal Groudon, is weak to Leafeon. Here is a little sample list:

Pokemon: 20
4 Eevee
4 Leafeon
4 Zubat
4 Golbat
3 Crobat
1 Jirachi EX

T/S/S: 33
4 Acro Bike
3 VS Seeker
2 Muscle Band
2 Silver Bangle
1 Scoop Up Cyclone
4 Ultra Ball
3 Roller Skates
4 N
4 Professor Juniper
2 Shauna
1 Lysandre
1 Lysandre's Trump Card
2 Training Center

Energy: 7
7 Grass Energy

The point of the deck is to attack with Leafeon against cards like Seismitoad EX and Groudon EX. The deck falls apart against decks that aren't weak to grass, but it is still a lot of fun. If you want to mess around with Crobat but can't afford cards like Landorus EX, this deck is an alternative choice.

We run the Energy Evolution Eevee so that we can get attacking early. Eevee PLF has more HP, but if this one evolves quickly, then HP is not too much of a problem.

We play Acro Bike and Roller Skates mostly because I feel like it. I like draw power that is not in the form of a supporter, and Acro Bike and Roller Skates let you draw cards after you have played your supporter for the turn.

Scoop Up Cyclone is the Ace Spec. It's not hard to draw the things you need or supporters in this deck, and Scoop Up Cyclone fulfills a couple of utility purposes. Besides letting you pick up a Bat to reuse Surprise Bite/Sneaky Bite, it lets you heal a damaged attacker. It also lets you Scoop Up Jirachi to reuse him or simply let him escape from danger.

I hope you can have some fun with this deck! If you take it to States, you could ruin a Seismitoad player's day, but with so much Toad out there and the rising popularity of Groudon, this deck could be a lot of fun.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Earth Volcano"- A 1st Place Report From Missouri States

I woke up at 4:40 on Saturday morning to get out the door by 5:45. My father, my mother, my brother and I all piled in the car and drove to Yeti Gaming in the St. Louis area.

The list I brought was identical to that posted by Andrew Wamboldt on The Charizard Lounge a week and a half ago. I really liked the list, and I felt like it stayed with the spirit of Donphan. With Donphan, you used to be able to load up a Donphan to use Wreck, but with the advent of VS Seeker people can reuse Lysandre to eliminate the threat of Donphan. Since Primal Groudon can't be affected by Lysandre or Enhanced Hammer, it is the ideal Pokemon to build up to be a big hitter.

Round One vs. Nicholas Jensen with Metal

I benched him on turn three or four with Donphan for game one. In game two, I loaded up a Primal Groudon with three Strong Energy, but he threw down two Aegislash EX. I three-hit each one with Donphan. His Plasma Klinklang meant that Groudon was useless in this matchup, which was frustrating.


Round Two vs. Zack Martin with Manectric + Bats

In game one I took some easy prizes off of Manectric, but I had to Wreck a Crobat and I was an energy short. He Nd me to one, I drew Korrina, and searched out Professor's Letter for the win.

In the second game, he used his Bats to knock out all my Donphans, leaving me with nothing. He would have won game three as well, but we ran out of time.


Round Three vs. Dylan Tenney with Machamp

I knocked out a Miltank early game and he could only set up one Machamp. He couldn't Lysandre a Primal Groudon, and I ran through him with Gaia Volcano both games after taking out threats like Lucario EX and Machamp.


Round Four vs. Jeff Cheshire with M Gardevoir

We only had time for one game, but boy was it a good game. He had to choose whether to Lysandre Groudon EX on the one turn before it Mega Evolved, or to Lysandre a Donphan that was threatening to Wreck M Gardevoir the following turn. He chose the Donphan (which was the right choice), which let me load up a Groudon to take my last two prizes. Game two went unfinished.

Round Five vs. David Coates with Exeggcutor/Greninja

This was a freaky but very scary deck. I immediately went for Primal Groudon, and had to wait eight or nine turns before I could draw into four energy. He sniped the Groudon with the Greninja, but he whiffed the energy for Stomp, so I was able to get the win. A very similar situation played out during game two, but there was not enough time for the game to finish.


Round Six vs. Andrew Wamboldt with Yveltal/Seismitoad/Garbodor/Raichu

We IDed, and I was in!


I was seeded to play against Brit Pybas the next day, so I went back to my hotel room and tested the Seismitoad/Jynx matchup with Ben Barham in preparation for the following day.

I started off the following day at six A.M. I was very anxious and excited and as a result I had trouble sleeping. I got a good eight hours in from ten to six but the quality of that sleep was low. I showered, ate breakfast at the Embassy, and sat in my hotel room waiting for time to go faster. At 8:30 I asked to get taken to Yeti Gaming because I couldn't take the suspense anymore. I was all jittery and nervous when we arrived at Yeti at 9:15, so Jay Young and I played a game of chess to warm up. It was really helpful, and I ended up winning.

By 10:01, all of top cut has arrived, and we get going.

Top Eight vs Brit Pybas with Seismitoad/Jynx

The night before I did some testing online against Seismitoad/Jynx, and I was winning about half of the games. One thing that helped me though is that I knew that Brit didn't play Lysandre or any Hammers, so my benched Donphans were pretty safe.

These games were streamed. I manage to get Groudon in both games, and I was able to use Gaia Volcano and Wreck to get a win.

Top Four vs Sorina Radu with Seismitoad/Crobat

This was the most challenging match of entire tournament. Toad gives me trouble, and the only way to beat it is with Groudon. During Swiss, Bats gave me trouble as well, so I was not looking forward to this match at all. During the first game against Sorina, I had to discard Primal Groudon early game, and she absolutely demolished me. I learned a couple of things during this game though. She ran Super Scoop Up, so I had to be knocking things out in one hit. The other thing that I noticed was that even though she ran bats, they weren't doing a ton of damage like they were during swiss. Because Seismitoad didn't hit the bench with its attack, there wasn't as much pressure on my bench.

I realized that I had to set up a Primal Groudon at all costs. I benched one and started attaching to it, but before I could evolve it into Primal Groudon, she used Lysandre to bring it up and she used Quaking Punch. It had Head Ringer on it, so I had to use Groudon's first attack a couple of times. In a last ditch effort, I used Lysandre on a benched Mewtwo. At this point, I honestly believed that I had lost the game and the series. The next turn, however, Sorina flipped tails on Super Scoop Up and I was back in the game. She flipped a second tails on Super Scoop Up, and whiffed a DCE to retreat. I set up Groudon and set up a Donphan on the bench, but she knocked out the Groudon when I still had two prizes left to take. I was able to Lysandre up Jirachi EX on her bench and KO it with Spinning Turn to net me the win and put me back in the series.

In game three, I loaded up a Groudon and I won when she ran out of energy after knocking it out.

Finals vs Andrew Wamboldt with Yveltal/Seismitoad/Garbodor/Raichu

These games were streamed, so you can go watch at In game one, I had a poor start and he won. I won games two and three by building up a Groudon to deal with EXes, and retreating it to save it for a game finisher.

I total I lost three games. I lost game two of Round Two of swiss, game one of Top Four, and game one of Top Two. I'm very happy with how I did. This is a big achievement for me. I got second at States in seniors in 2012, but this is a much bigger deal. This is also my first time in masters advancing past the first round of top cut. I think I will play Donphan again next week. The deck has an answer for a lot of the decks out there.

Without further ado, here is the list:

I encourage you to go check out where I got the list from. Andrew goes more in depth, explains the logic behind the deck and individual card choices. He runs a great site, and it's all free.

Donphan being viable again
Chess with Jay
Mental Pokemon with Damien
Having great friends who will test with me from 200 miles away
Taquitos from QT

Not being able to sleep before Pokemon tournaments

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave questions in the comments.

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Set Up"- Why Shaymin EX is Going to be a Very Good Card

In our May set, a card called Shaymin EX is released. This card is going to have the
ability "Setup". Setup reads, "Once during your turn (before your attack), when you play this Pokemon from your hand to your bench, you may draw cards until you have 6 cards in your hand." This card gets even better when you factor in the new stadium which lets players have up to eight benched Pokemon, and as a result has huge synergy with Rayquaza EX. But besides being central to a Rayquaza deck, the card will be a staple. You're going to want to pick these up, know how to take advantage of the Shaymin EX in your deck and in your opponent's deck.

Anyone who played the game when Diamond and Pearl: Legends Awakened was released remembers Uxie LA. Uxie , like Shaymin, had the Setup Ability (it was a Poke Power) which let you draw until you had seven. Nearly every deck ran a Uxie. Most decks ran two, and some decks ran three. The current format is lacking in Pokemon-based draw power, and if Uxie is any indication, Shaymin is going to be huge. Imagine this: you have a dead hand. All you have is an Ultra Ball and a couple of other cards. You can use the Ultra Ball to get your hand down to almost zero and use Shaymin EX to draw five or six cards. You are likely to draw into a Supporter, so you get those four cards plus your Supporter for the turn. With both Pokemon and Supporter-based draw, people will be able to draw through many more cards throughout the course of the game, which will make decks faster in general.

In some ways, Jirachi EX is better, because it nets you a Supporter no matter what. But with Shaymin, the worst case scenario is that you've drawn a lot of cards anyway, which is what you want your Supporter to do. Another thing to consider is that Jirachi EX will likely rotate in August.. After it rotates, Shaymin will be the go-to card to make a dead hand with Ultra Ball a live one.

The more Shaymin that you bench, the less space you have for attackers and bench-sitters. One thing you can do to mitigate this is to play Shaymin in decks like Night March that don't require a lot of bench space. One other helpful feature of Shaymin is that it has an attack called Sky Return that does 30 damage for CC and returns it to your hand (This is reminiscent of Uxie LA's Psychic Restore). This way you can get Shaymin out of the way or even bench him again so you can draw more cards the following turn! In addition, in the set that Shaymin comes out in, there is a stadium called Skyfield that lets you have up to eight benched Pokemon. This lets you lay down a bunch of Shaymin EX. If Skyfield is replaced, you can discard the Shaymin EXes, freeing up bench space before you lay down a Skyfield again.

Silent Lab is a stadium released in Primal Clash that shuts off the abilities of Basic Pokemon. This blocks the use of Shaymin's Setup. As a result, if your deck is very reliant on drawing cards with Shaymin EX, then it is advisable to run four counter-stadiums so that you draw one if you desperately need to draw cards. If many people run Shaymin, that means less decks will be running Silent Lab, but that Silent Lab decks will be more effective.

Skyfield and Shaymin EX have synergy with the M Rayquaza EX that is coming out in the set as well. Rayquaza has an attack for CCC that does 30x the number of your benched Pokemon. Skyfield lets you have eight benched Pokemon. Shaymin can be one of those benched Pokemon while drawing you cards to find more benched Pokemon. So besides being a staple in many decks, Shaymin EX will also be part of an archetype that requires up to four of them.

When every deck plays multiple copies of cards like Shaymin EX, cards that snipe for 110+ damage  become that much more effective at taking prizes. Cards like Gengar SF took prizes by sniping Uxie and Claydol. In the yet-to-be-released May set, M Latios EX has an attack for WPC that snipes for 120 damage and discards two energy. Since Shaymin only has 110 HP, cards like Latios and other future cards will be able to take prizes in this way. This is something to keep in mind on the release of this set.

Like the very similar Uxie LA before it, Shaymin EX will define the format that it is in. It will be a four-of card in an archetype, but it will also be a staple in almost every deck. A Shaymin EX will most likely be a worthwhile investment.

Thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment below!

"March of the Penguins"- A New Way to Play Night March with the Release of Primal Clash

This weekend in Florida saw the advent of an interesting idea using established archetypes such as Flareon and Night March with Archie's Ace in the Hole. Night March and Flareon both used Battle Compressor to get Pokemon in the discard pile, and used a low count of Professor Juniper along with VS Seeker to draw cards. These decks have great synergy with Archie's Ace in the Hole, which was released in Primal Clash. Archie puts a water Pokemon from your discard pile onto your bench. This can be a Basic, Stage 1, Stage 2, or even a Mega EX! The major downside of this card is that it has to be the only card in your hand for you to play it. I had originally written off the card, but creative players in Florida have figured out the best way to play it.

The deck that won Regionals was a Flareon deck that ran two Empoleon DEX and one Archie. It used cards like Acro Bike to draw cards, along with Battle Compressor, VS Seeker, and Professor Juniper. When building a Night March deck for the new format, one will want to use similar principles. Here is my list updated for the BCR-PCL format:

3 Mew EX
4 Pumpkaboo
4 Lampent
4 Joltik
2 Empoleon
2 Jirachi EX
1 Mr. Mime

4 Juniper
1 N
1 Lysandre
1 Archie’s Ace in the Hole
1 Computer Search
4 VS Seeker
3 Ultra Ball
4 Battle Compressor
1 Escape Rope
2 Muscle Band
2 Hard Charm
4 Dimension Valley
4 Acro Bike

4 Water

What are the differences between this list and the list I had previously posted?

No Random Receiver

Random Receiver is gone. Now we just rely on two Jirachi to consistently draw our Professor Junipers when we need them. And remember, we still have the Battle Compressor/VS Seeker combo!

Mr. Mime with Bench Barrier

With Landorus/Crobat so popular, we need to defend ourself against Landorus. Crobat can still hit through Mr. Mime because Surprise Bite is not an attack but an ability. But this way we are protected from Megalo Cannon, Overrun, Night Spear, Hammerhead, and even Skill Dive.

Four Pokemon Tools

With Head Ringer and Jamming Net running rampant, it is important to get Pokemon Tools onto your Mew EX as soon as possible. Otherwise you could be in a position where you not only can't attach a tool, but also where you have to use extra resources to work around the Flare Tools.

Four Dimension Valley

With cards like Silent Lab in the format that shut off Mew EX and Jirachi EX, the stadium war is more important than ever. Three Dimension Valley was cutting it close before, but now we always need four so that we draw into it and so that we can bump out other stadiums.

March of the Penguins

Our last major change in the list is adding in the big emperor himself. Use Battle Compressor and Acro Bike to get Empoleon and the Night Marchers into the discard pile and thin out your deck. Then if the opportunity presents itself, let Archie get Empoleon in play for you. This does three things:

1) Extra Draw Power. With an Empoleon in play, you can use Double Draw to get two extra cards per turn. You can discard Night Marchers and draw cards to get more in the discard pile!

2) Extra HP. Mew EX was the Pokemon with the highest HP in the deck. Now we have a beefy 140 HP Empoleon who is harder to knock out, especially with a Hard Charm attached.

3) Extra Attacker. If everyone's bench is full, Empoleon can hit for 120 damage. This knocks out everything in the format with two hits, and it gives you an attacker that doesn't require Night Marchers in the discard pile. After being hit with a Trump Card, you can attack with Empoleon or use Mew to copy Empoleon's attack to hit for some big damage.

While Empoleon is very cool and helpful to have in play, you can still win without him. It isn't worth it to take huge risks to get him out. But it is still a great card!

Cards I want to fit in

A fourth Ultra Ball would be grand, because with two Jirachi it is nearly always an out to a Supporter. In addition, Ultra Ball lets you trim your hand down so you can use Archie.

An Exeggcute would also be nice. Along with Ultra Ball and Computer Search, it can help you hit magic numbers to use Archie as well. The reason I didn't automatically throw it in there is because you can't get the Big Penguin out every game, and that makes it not as useful. In addition, you want to be using your Battle Compressors on Pokemon with the Night March. This means that early game when you discard Exeggcute with Compressor, you are doing less damage in the long run. The final reason Exeggcute isn't an automatic addition is because adding him in raises the odds of starting with an Exeggcute or Jirachi EX, and Exeggcute is fragile. I've had my Joltik donked with a Virbank + Laser combination, and this raises the chances of something like that happening.

I want to fit more Item-based draw into the deck. I would love to be running 4 Acro Bike and 4 Roller Skates, but there simply isn't room. Bicycle is now noticeably absent from the deck as well. Both Skates and Bike don't mesh as well with Archie, but they could get you more cards when you had already played your Supporter. Acro Bike is the best choice, however, for Item-Based Draw, because it nets you the same amount of cards every time. It isn't dependent on hand size or a coin flip.

I also miss Pokemon Catcher. By not running that, the deck's Donphan matchup gets considerably worse, but ideally Donphan is a dead deck anyway. I also want to get a Teammates in here somewhere, but other cards take precedent at the moment. It simply doesn't net you enough cards.

With the new cards released in Primal Clash, the format became more diverse, and Night March is more viable than ever. Go ahead and give it a try!

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment below! You can read my original article about Night March in the BCR-PHF format here.